Step by step instructions on how to create a Christmas village display as a family tradition. Included are money saving tips and a step by step video!
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One year as a young bride I discovered the beauty of collecting miniature houses for Christmas.
I had my family buy several of the Dickensville ones at half price at the end of the season and give them to me for my birthday.
Slowly my little Christmas village display grew and grew until it became this lovely town full of family memories.
We keep the village in large storage tubs marked specifically for this purpose in our storage building outside.
Before we had these bookcases by the front door our village was wider and longer, but now it has been “downsized” to fit into the space right inside our front door.
Over the years we have developed a system to all the madness that is our way of greeting visitors and family alike into our home.
Here’s my DIY husband Tim to tell you how to create a Christmas village display!
(If you’d rather watch a video tutorial just click below!)
How to Create a Christmas Village Display
Christmas Village houses (Department 56 Dickens’ Village is a popular one or Lemax Village is another one)
Department 56 Dickens Village people or Lemax Village people
Street lamp set
Village brick street
Snow cover buffalo blanket
Styrofoam snow (our kids’ favorite part!)
Flat white sheets
Candy stripe red fabric
Heavy duty staple gun
Step 1. Select appropriate size of plywood for your space.
From my DIY hubby: The foundation of our Christmas village is this piece of 1/2″ plywood that has been trimmed and modified over the years to accommodate every little nuance in its construction.
It has rounded corners for safety, holes large enough to push electrical plugs through and connecting grooves cut to hide extra wires. Some final markings to help and here we go!
Step 2. Determine placement of houses on the plywood and cut circles.
This step isn’t pictured but the holes will vary depending on the number of houses you have.
One year our oldest daughter drew out the placement of the houses, and it’s so helpful!
150 many years of doing this we really don’t need the instructions anymore, but it still makes me chuckle that at one point we needed them.
Step 3. Put paper plates underneath two saw horses.
This part of the process is under my jurisdiction; specially sized saw horses are cleaned and brought inside and placed on paper plates.
We used to do this when we had carpet to protect it from the muck on the legs, but now it’s to protect the flooring. It also helps the whole set-up to slide around, kind of like glides.
Step 4. Attach plywood to saw horses.
The plywood is screwed into the saw horses, where marked (of course), which prevents any shift and a catastrophic collapse. At one point we had cats that loved to jump onto our village and terrorize the town folks!
This makes sense when you see the finished product, but this is looking down Main Street, with houses and shops on either side. The road is lined with streetlights that are stapled to the board and the extra wiring is pulled through the slots to the underside of the table.
Each house has a light (actually a night light sized bulb and retaining clip) and that cord is pushed through the holes.
Step 5. Cut holes in a flat white sheet to match the plywood and set in place.
The next step is to place a flat white sheets over the plywood that has matching holes cut where they fall in the plywood. Again, this is to allow for all the electrical connections to be made and hidden under the village.
It is important to get the right side up and the left side right…see what I mean?!
Step 6. Attach street lamps to wood.
Perhaps the most ratty part of our little community is the street lamp set. There have always been 24 in Dickesnville, but they really take a beating year to year.
We used to drive screws through the bottom of the plywood and push the lights onto the screw to hold them in place, but, alas, one year they had to be replaced and the set-up changed.
Now we just staple them to the board on either side with a heavy duty staple gun and pray they stay in place. These lights will not be with us next year and their upgrades are already in storage!
Unseen here is my son under the board pulling the extra wire between lights through the sheet and those grooves in the plywood. Everything gets hidden!
And the lights are in place…wow, these things have really been abused.
Step 7. Set houses in place and pull all electrical to the underside of the plywood.
This is where having a diagram is so important! When you’re making a Christmas village as a family, the less decisions the better!
Step 8. Add your own special touches.
One of the more clever ideas was using a roll-up street that we found at Lowe’s one year. It is similar to that magnet material and looks just like a brick street when finished.
For sidewalks we use sandpaper cut into strips and placed where appropriate.
Step 9. Add all the accessories.
Here the houses and shops have been placed, but we are far from done! There are trees and people, carolers and snowmen, ice skaters and sledders, vendors and town folk soon to follow.
Step 10. Throw on the snowflakes!
This is the moment when everyone is called back in to participate – the throwing of the snowflakes! It has always, always been our children’s favorite part.
This happens after everything has been placed and the buffalo snow blanket covers the ground.
If you look really close you can see our new touch this year – smoke coming from chimneys! We’ve never done that and my son came up with the idea to use a sticky dot and wispy cotton to achieve the effect. It’s very cute!
So this is the moment captured! It is snowing like crazy…no global warming in Dickensville!
Step 11. Cover plywood with fabric and create a backdrop if desired.
We also decided to hang a sheet behind the village this year to hide the bookshelves. It helped with pictures but also gave all the focus to one of the essentials in our Christmas season…Dickensville!
Push everything into place (VERY carefully) and we are done!
Our Dickensville village greets Christmas visitors to our home both day and night.
Marty: The funniest part of this process is watching the kids
bicker discuss the correct placement of all the people and whether some of the houses got too much snow!
This may be my village, but it’s a family tradition and a wonderful way to welcome folks into our home.
You can find all the instructions for making my DIY chalkboard banner with wood slices here. It adds a nice touch above the Christmas village display.
Are you interested in more thrifty Christmas decorating ideas? Check out my 10 ways to use extra Christmas ornaments and 5 cheap Christmas decorations for a simple authentic home.
What are YOUR favorite ways to decorate for Christmas on a budget?